We all know that the teenage years can be some of the most trying years. But this is Thanksgiving week and people everywhere are adopting an attitude of gratitude. So I’ve decided to give thanks for the teenagers in my home. You can, too. Here are 7 reasons to cherish your teenagers.
1. Teenagers eat the food you prepare.
They may not share your love of salmon or mushrooms, but they probably won’t whine and sulk about the dinner menu like they did when they were little. They’re beginning to appreciate the time and care that goes into preparing a meal. And if you’re lucky enough to be able to dine together several times a week, research says your teens will perform better in school and resist negative peer pressure. Family dinners are so hard to pull off with hectic schedules, but most teens will agree they are a welcome departure from fast food and Kraft macaroni and cheese.
2. Teenagers help out around the house (with less whining and eye rolling each time).
By the time your children are teenagers, it’s no longer necessary for “helping out” to be a fun, game-style activity set to music. It should not require a fun follow-up activity either. Teens will usually help out when asked because they know (at last!) that it’s the right thing to do. It lightens the load for us parents, physically and mentally. Alleluiah!
3. Teenagers are technology savvy.
I “get” Facebook. I get email. I get texting and cable TV. But apparently I don’t get the“blue” stuff. I once flagged down a Target salesperson in the technology department to inquire which blue tooth system was rated best in quality for movie viewing. I thought I was being proactive. Before the young man could respond, my teen interjected, “Blue ray! Not blue tooth, Mom!” How could I have confused the two? And why are they both blue? My teens know way more about technology than I do and yours probably do, too. Embrace this reality and give thanks for your teens.
4. Teenagers introduce you to new skills and activities.
I’ve rarely had the opportunity to speak the French language I spent 7 years studying, but I do get to quiz my eighth grader on her Spanish and it makes me long to learn this language. She is quite skilled at reciting simple sentences that sound sophisticated to my untrained ears. Te amo, mamá. Usted es el major! (I love you, mom. You’re the best!)
I would rather stick needles in my eyes than perform on stage in an auditorium. So no one was more proud (or sweating more profusely) than I was, watching our oldest daughter play the role of a singing nun in her high school’s production of The Sound of Music. And I get another rush from watching ice hockey with some of the most rowdy parents in sports. I thank God when the game is over and no one is hurt. I love the game but watching my child play it is completely out of my comfort zone.
Watching your teens develop as students, athletes, artists and friends is a role you only have for a short time. I try to cherish these days and the lessons they bring. (Remember those temper tantrums and power struggles from the toddler years? I don’t. I do remember many of the good times, though).
5. Teenagers enjoy family time.
It’s now OK to pull out [some of] those fantastic movies that contain more substance. Teenagers will not be scarred by mature language and more mature themes. And there’s another bonus: Teenagers may look at you appreciatively for your choices in comedy, drama and documentary.
Some people call gatherings with relatives forced family fun. But I’m certain most teenagers welcome those infrequent opportunities to spend time with aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins. What’s not to like about a full Thanksgiving belly followed by a game of Candyland and/or Scrabble? Or watching football or a classic Disney movie? And how about gathering for a Face Time session with long-distance relatives they love and miss? Yes, teenagers gravitate toward friends more than family, but they can always count on unconditional love and acceptance of family through the ups and downs of the teenage years. Amen.
6. Teenagers let you know if you’re about to make a fashion faux pas.
Or, they let you know at dinner, when it’s a little too late. But you can still take away the lesson. (Stripes on stripes doesn’t work).
7. Teenagers still need us and (occasionally) come to us for advice.
Sometimes we forget that our teens are still developing into adults. They make mistakes. They make poor choices. We often wonder what’s in store for their futures. But they all show signs of becoming independent – which is great news! It is also a reminder to us to cherish them right now while they’re still immersed in our lives. Time flies when you’re having fun.